Rhode Island Approves Plan to Toll Trucks to Fund Roadwork

  • Governor signs measure after state senate vote Thursday
  • Passenger vehicles won't pay tolls, capped at $20 daily

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed a bill that imposes the state’s first tolls on large commercial trucks to finance roadwork.

The measure, which was approved by the state’s Senate Thursday and the House of Representatives Wednesday, applies only to trucks with a single trailer and to those with three or more axles. Cars are exempt.

Raimondo, a Democrat, pushed it as a way to shore up the state’s roads, which include 43 miles (69 kilometers) of Interstate 95, the eastern seaboard’s main route.

“It is a reasonable solution that asks those who put the most wear and tear on our transportation infrastructure to contribute to its repair and upkeep, including those from out of state who otherwise wouldn’t contribute at all,” Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, a Democrat, said in a statement.

About 23 percent of the state’s bridges that are longer than 20 feet are structurally deficient, according to the bill. The tolls would average $3 each and be capped at $20 a day for the same truck crossing the state. Tractor trailers cause 70 percent of the damage to the state’s roads while accounting for less than 20 percent of revenue to fund transportation, the bill says.

The legislation would bring 90 percent of the state’s bridges into structural sufficiency by 2024 and create 6,000 new construction jobs, the General Assembly said in a statement.

The Rhode Island Trucking Association opposed the levy, saying it’s unfair to target big rigs and it won’t generate the revenue expected as traffic diverts around the state.

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